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Old August 20th, 2011, 12:20 AM   #1
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Need some tips on processing chant

I have a Gregorian chant recording of some Monks I'm doing a video for. I used two Shure SM-81s and a Mackie ONYX 1220 to make the recording and it came out fairly well. I would appreciate any thoughts on the best way to enhance it post. Music mastering is not my strong suit. The audio programs I have are Sound Forge 9 and Adobe Audition CS5.5.

Thank you, Marc
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Old August 20th, 2011, 01:32 AM   #2
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

If it came out fairly well, be careful trying to improve it, it can actually go the other way.

Without hearing it, maybe some light 20:1 limiting to raise the overall level.

Does it 'sound' like the venue .. can you post an audio sample?

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Old August 20th, 2011, 09:23 AM   #3
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

You could use Sound Forge's two stage "Wave Hammer" plug-in, which has a compressor and peak limiter/volume maximizer. Beware.. excessive amounts compression is counter productive and the volume maximizer stage can induce very audible distortion. EQ is commonly used in mastering/post prod. as well, but that doesn't you should use it.
If you post an audio clip, I could offer specifics
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Old August 20th, 2011, 09:38 AM   #4
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc Salvatore View Post
I have a Gregorian chant recording of some Monks I'm doing a video for. I used two Shure SM-81s and a Mackie ONYX 1220 to make the recording and it came out fairly well. I would appreciate any thoughts on the best way to enhance it post. Music mastering is not my strong suit. The audio programs I have are Sound Forge 9 and Adobe Audition CS5.5.
If it came out well, I wouldn't touch it.

If I recorded Gregorian Chant I would consider myself a failure if I had to change anything.

That's the magic of Gregorian Chant - it's the voices and the acoustic - leave it alone unless you made serious errors in recording it in the first place.
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Old August 20th, 2011, 06:00 PM   #5
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

+1 for don't fool with it unless there are some obvious and distracting defects - like someone sneezing or knocking over a chair etc.

For this kind of music I agree with John. Get it right in the first place because fixing things can quickly make them sound worse.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 07:37 AM   #6
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

Thank you for the responses, they make sense. Here is an example file with two excerpts. One is chant only and the other has organ with voice. I'm thinking that the voice/organ songs could be improved with some careful EQ? Perhaps a little reverb on everything as well?

http://www.sacredheartmediaproductio...nt_Example.mp3


Marc
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 08:40 AM   #7
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

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Originally Posted by Marc Salvatore View Post
Thank you for the responses, they make sense. Here is an example file with two excerpts. One is chant only and the other has organ with voice. I'm thinking that the voice/organ songs could be improved with some careful EQ? Perhaps a little reverb on everything as well?

http://www.sacredheartmediaproductio...nt_Example.mp3


Marc
I don't think I would touch them.

I does sound like you had the mics a little too close, but I'm afraid that tinkering may spoil it.

If you do decide to tinker, make sure you keep the original and save the tinkered versions as something else. But the trouble is that, with this stuff, it really needs to be consistent and not changing acoustics from track to track.

All I can say is experiment and give it a try and see what happens - but keep any reverb light and natural so it sounds real - but make sure you keep the originals as you may well decide that they are still the best option.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 10:26 AM   #8
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

Thanks John. I forgot to mention that I also had a RODE stereo mike in the back in the church with the idea that I might mix it in post. Each mic is on it's own track (4-track file) and the sample file I posted only had the two close in mics. Here's the Rode stereo. Seems like the chant only version might be helpful to mix in but the organ piece really gets overpowered by the organ at that distance.

http://www.sacredheartmediaproductio...ample_Rode.mp3
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 11:19 AM   #9
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

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Originally Posted by Marc Salvatore View Post
Thanks John. I forgot to mention that I also had a RODE stereo mike in the back in the church with the idea that I might mix it in post. Each mic is on it's own track (4-track file) and the sample file I posted only had the two close in mics. Here's the Rode stereo. Seems like the chant only version might be helpful to mix in but the organ piece really gets overpowered by the organ at that distance.

http://www.sacredheartmediaproductio...ample_Rode.mp3
Actually it sounded OK (though I'm only listening on laptop speakers at the moment).

How about using the distant pair as the main and adding a touch of the closer pair for focus? - no EQ or anything - just balancing between the two pairs).
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 12:04 PM   #10
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

Here's a direct mix of the 4 tracks with no level adjustments. What do you think? Also I did slate each track. Should I move the slate point of the rear stereo mic. to match the front mics or am I defeating the purpose of the distance?

http://www.sacredheartmediaproductio..._track_Mix.mp3

Thanks, Marc
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 12:09 PM   #11
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

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Originally Posted by Marc Salvatore View Post
Here's a direct mix of the 4 tracks with no level adjustments. What do you think? Also I did slate each track. Should I move the slate point of the rear stereo mic. to match the front mics or am I defeating the purpose of the distance?

http://www.sacredheartmediaproductio..._track_Mix.mp3

Thanks, Marc
I have not got the replay equipment easily available at the moment - you need to listen carefully and get the balance that sounds best to you.

I think I would use the rear pair and sliwly bring up the front pair until you get the sound you want.

I hope this helps.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 12:53 PM   #12
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

Yes, thanks again for the help.

Marc
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 03:02 PM   #13
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

If you're using the rear pair as your main source, and just adding a tiny bit of the front pair for vocal "focus" then I would definitely match the slate so both pairs are in sync. You don't want the "focus" mics to be ahead of the "main" mics in time.

OTOH, if you're using the front pair as the main mics, and just adding a tiny bit of rear mics for extra reverb, you don't absolutely need to have them perfectly in sync; reverb by definition follows the direct sound.

However, if you got slate by actually using a clap or slap in the choir position, and you match up that slap on both pairs, it would not hurt anything, because the reverb (as picked up by the rear pair) would still be building up after the direct clap occurs. I think I would be inclined to sync the two pairs of mics, regardless of you you eventually mix them... then you would have just one unified "direct" voice recording, which would probably give you better intelligibility.

Of course, no matter what you end up doing, be sure you get the approval of the musical director, as he might have a different idea of the "ideal sound" than you (or I) might have.

And carefully document every step of the process, in case you want to go back and record the same performers in the same venue, at some time in the future.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 03:53 PM   #14
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

Thanks Greg.
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Old August 22nd, 2011, 05:19 PM   #15
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Re: Need some tips on processing chant

Personally, I'd apply a convolution reverb of a much larger space, but this would be an artistic choice, not a technical one. Fortunately, the space you recorded them in isn't too small, so adding a larger reverb should work well. Problems can occur when the first reflections are too strong and close, like in a bedroom, but that's no problem here.

I compose music with samples - some recorded dry, some in large halls - and adding a larger reverb is generally successful for music - including for choir samples.

You might check out Quantum Leap Spaces. It's simple to use, includes some excellent halls, and sounds wonderful. A number of composers have ditched their Lexicons for Spaces. There is a one week trial. As long as your Internet connection is up to the task, one week should be enough for you to explore a number of options.

Spaces Convolution Reverb Plug-In

Personally, my week trial has expired, but I plan to pull the trigger on Spaces when it's time to mix my next project.
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